Investigations conducted by News Ghana indicate that there is growing anger among public Senior High School (SHS) teachers across the country over the implementation of the double-track and semester system for the 2018/2019 academic year.
The Ghana government in an attempt to deal with the growing numbers desiring to pursue secondary education, introduced the double-track system to allow some 400 SHS across the country to accommodate more students within the same facility motivated by the potential to reduce overcrowding.
In addition, the government abolished the trimester system (three-term system) and adopted the semester system (a system when an academic calendar is divided into two; usually between 16 and 18 weeks.
The government argues, with the introduction of the semester system, Ghana will move closer to a uniform system across all levels of education.
According to a document obtained from the Free SHS Secretariat by News Ghana, the three-term system has more teaching days (180) than the semester system (162), the latter has an increase in contact hours between the teacher and the student.
The trimester system has six (6) teaching hours a day, but under the semester system, teachers will teach for seven (7) hours a day.
This means the three-term system has a total of 1,080 contact hours each academic year while the semester system yields 1,134 contact hours in an academic year thereby amounting to 54 hours more under the semester system.
The SHS teachers who were carefully selected from some top and lower ranked secondary schools across the country argue the new semester system has placed additional burden on the already over used teacher in the country without any corresponding incentive package.
A teacher in one of the prestigious schools in the Greater Accra Region who preferred to speak on anonymity for fear of victimization said, “The government is spending so much on the first and second year students under the Free SHS Policy but has neglected we the teachers who are the direct implementers of the policy.
These students are not paying school fees, they are supplied with exercise books and the core textbooks, supplied 3 uniforms each and on top of all those goodies, they are being fed as well. Boarders are fed three times a day while day students are fed once a day. What have they done for us as teachers? he quizzed.
A sample of opinions picked up from the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions indicate that SHS teachers are disappointed in the Akufo-Addo led government for paying so much attention to the students to the neglect of the teacher in the classroom who is at the centre of the implementation of the policy.
A teacher in an SHS in the Northern Region said, “With the introduction of the double-track and semester system, I teach for a minimum of 5 hours a day from Monday to Friday. I have to give exercises and mark them as well and nothing has been done to my salary. The stress that this new policy has put on SHS teachers is so much and I can assure you that teachers will be collapsing very soon. Is it a crime to be a teacher in Ghana?”
Another teacher in a popular SHS in the Volta Region wondered why the government has not said anything on improving the lot of the teacher by way of remuneration under the new policy. “As I speak to you now, the government and our union leaders have not said anything about money to us apart from the old anemic salary paid to us by an ungrateful crop of leaders.
Government in July this year deliberately announced new salaries under the Single Spine Pay Policy by 10 percent taking effect from January 2019 knowing very well that it would introduce a major policy by September, 2018.”
Most of the teachers interviewed were also angry with the various teacher unions to which they belong to describing them as ‘people in the pay pocket of the government’ as they were not interested in the affairs of teachers.
“As for the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the least said about them the better. They have failed Ghanaian teachers’ big time and we have lost confidence in them,” one teacher at Tema Secondary School said.
Attempts by News Ghana to speak to some headmaster/mistress in SHS proved futile as they were tight-lipped for fear of being victimized for criticizing the government but only to ask their teachers to cope with the unpleasant situation.
Intelligence picked up by News Ghana is that there is so much anger among SHS teachers across the country and the earlier the government came out to address their concerns the better it would be for the implementation of the new policy.
By Roger A. Agana